Monday, 1 May 2017

Best STALKER Mods - OGSE - Old Good STALKER Evolution

Best STALKER Mods - Old Good STALKER Evolution

A review of Old Good STALKER Evolution

Yes, OGSE has driveable vehicles. They're not cheap in Zone currency, though.
   O G S E — I n t r o d u c t i o n   

My fave gun in all of STALKER (VSS Vintorez),
with my fave reskin (ARMA-style)
Exploring the jungle of STALKER mods can be grueling, especially with the Russian language barrier that makes it difficult to find solutions to bugs, such as those found in the legendary AMK overhaul.

But then I found OGSE for Shadow of Chernobyl, another Russian uber-mod featuring rock solid stability and high survival challenge for advanced players; a sort of evolution on AMK. It's also well-translated! Then, after weeks of dedicated play and experimentation, I came to the conclusion that OGSE is, for me, currently the apex of the FPS genre, at least as regards open-ish worlds, emphasis on survival, intense atmosphere and risky exploration with suitable rewards. Make no mistake, though: this mod is hard and very, VERY scary. I hope you're up to the challenge... 

   O G S E — O v e r v i e w   

OGSE leaves the main quest and side-quests of base-game SHoC largely intact, but builds upon them. The tone is set early. Those familiar with SHoC will start the game, look down at their binocs and bolt and at once cry out for a weapon, as OGSE at first denies you even your trusty combat knife, meaning you can't even smash open wooden boxes for supplies.

Admiring my arsenal from within my exoskeleon visor
The nearby Loner Camp is also initially hostile: wander in there uninvited and they will just open fire on you, then ask questions. You have to actually engage in human conversation with them first (makes sense!) and do the underground trader a favor, which is your maiden quest. This quest involves retrieving an artifact from close-by. As you near the artifact, the trader contacts you over radio warning of anomalies. At this point you'll see a Flesh mutant pulled up into an anomaly and torn apart, and then a military helicopter passes over. You carefully navigate the anomalied area by tossing bolts in front of you (anomalies are invisible until triggered), and procure the artifact you need. 

No sooner have you done this, the trader radios again and asks you to rescue a trio from the camp who foolishly fired at the chopper. By the time you get there the chopper is thankfully long gone and only one survivor remains (Tolik). You heal him up, loot the corpses of the deceased for your first guns, and then return the artifact to the trader, who rewards you with the combat knife and the Nimble quest. Now you're also accepted into the Loner Camp and can get your first quest from Wolf. These next quests aren't exactly casual strolls in the Zone - now an unpredictable, diverse and deadly region populated by angry, fast-moving, ballistic-resilient a-life.

Knifing a Controller in OGSE
The a-life in SHoC is tame; one might even say domesticated. You might encounter three mutated pigs frolicking with blind dogs, and fall asleep watching them duke it out. But in OGSE expect in a radius of half a click to see several different mutants and humans fighting for survival, and then maybe turning on you. I recall an instance where I was suddenly being pursued by various mutants whom I could not fend off, so I ran. And ran and ran, fearing death with every stride, anomalies crackling around and bursting as they vaporized the a-life, lightning forking down from the pitch-black sky, dogs howling in the distance and a whole herd of mutated pigs on a hill, lit up by lightning flashes, galloping around screaming at each other in deranged voices. It was pretty harrowing, but I eventually made it back to a safe zone. And there, I found no shoulder to cry on. 

Next, soldiers and mercs in SHoC pop their heads around corners, duck back out of LoS, but then stupidly pop their heads around again, in the exact same way, so that you've already lined them up and can just casually head-shot them. But in OGSE expect the unexpected. They might camp, they might throw a grenade, they might run off and hide, they might flank (they're good at it), or they might do this: I had a heavily armored expert merc run out of ammo, charge me and knock me off-balance with his rifle-butt, take a few steps back while he reloaded, and just as I shook myself out of a daze and started to lift my gun, he blew me away.

Lesser artifacts can be transmuted into greater ones.
This is late-game.
I rarely subbed artifacts in and out with SHoC, but in OGSE how you equip them is central to surviving against certain enemies and harsh environments. I recall a dark stormy night where I needed to run a great distance with almost no ammo, so I quickly girdled myself with Moonlight artifacts for +stamina regen. I could hear a cacophony of livid mutants all around, and then out of the shadows a pseudodog, a blur of vicious speed, jumped for my jugular. I emptied the last of my ammo into its head to put it down; then, out of breath, bleeding heavily, unable to run, barely able to walk, and out of medkits and other mundane healing items, I found a temporary safe-haven and quickly swapped out the Moonlights for Meatchunks and a Soul artifact before my HPs hit zero. Luckily I had a Slug to slow bleeding or the +HP artifacts would not have offset the trauma. After healing up, I was then able to play on and reach my destination.

Thunder, lightning and rain = atmosphere
Even when girdled with end-game transmuted artifacts and wearing optimal armor for the situation, OGSE still demands you show enemies and environments a certain healthy respect. Beware of blowouts and zombification!

Unlike LURK and Complete (which are shitty overhauls), OGSE art assets respect visual authenticity with base-game SHoC. Setup also has an option for HQWT (High Quality Weapon Textures), and while you should also choose Argus in setup, those textures must then be installed manually.

I have played OGSE solidly for weeks on end, and haven't had a single CTD. I can't say this for base-game SHoC, LURK, Complete or AMK [1]. So congrats to the devs!

[1] Please note that by listing them together I am most certainly not putting LURK and Complete on the same level as the legendary AMK, which deserves a great amount of respect for trailblazing STALKER modding. It's just a bit old now and the English version was pretty buggy for me, that's all.

   I n s t a l l a t i o n  I n s t r u c t i o n s   

I'll cover the latest and final version of OGSE, first (v0.6.9.3). Final, in that it's the last of the Evolution Series because the devs are now developing their Remastered Series.

• First, install STALKER SHoC as usual and apply the 1.0005 patch. Run the game once, and exit.

• Next, download the files from here (Parts 1-6 + the 2 patches) and install OGSE to a separate folder (say, ..\STALKER OGSE). Installation size is around 10 gigs.

• Do NOT rerun the game yet or you will fuck things up! Instead, first run OGSE_Configurator.exe and set it according to your tastes and skill level. If you don't know what those are, maybe play base-game SHoC first? As I said earlier, this overhaul is for advanced players; not newbies on their maiden runs.

• And that's it. Wow, that was easy - Enjoy!


Ok, the installation process for the older version (v0.6.9.2) is a lil' different. Why am I posting instructions for an older version? Because the older version has a much smaller footprint and not everyone can run the latest and greatest.

• First, install STALKER SHoC as usual and apply the 1.0005 patch. Run the game once, and exit.

• Next, navigate to your SHoC install folder, open fsgame.ltx in your text editor, and find this line:

$game_data$           = false|         true|    $fs_root$|            gamedata\.

And change it to this:

$game_data$           = true|         true|    $fs_root$|            gamedata\.

I'm not entirely sure if OGSE requires this edit, but this is a good habit to get into when you're about to mod STALKER games, and it does no harm.

• Download the file from here (it's this one) and just double-click the OGSE installer and follow the prompts. I recommend choosing the HQWT + Argus setup option.

• When the installation is finalized simply copy the contents of Argus Textures and Creatures to your STALKER textures folder (\gamedata\textures) and OGSE will employ them.

• Now comes the fun part - the eminently customizable OGSE Configurator. The OGSE settings tab is probably not self-explanatory, since you won't really know if they suit your skill and taste until you play for awhile. So I recommend keeping the settings here at default, except for widescreen scopes which you'll want if you have such a display. When you return to tweak these settings, fight the urge to increase "carried weight limit". It really cheapens the game and breaks immersion to have the Marked One capable of carrying the contents of the Zone in his backpack. Srsly, don't do it.

• The second, third and forth tabs are self-explanatory, what you choose here will depend on your system and personal taste. I recommend checking out the sunshafts, though.

• And that's it. Enjoy! Here are a few other pics from my various runs of OGSE.

Needless to say, these guys copped it.
A chilling OGSE "fractured" stalks me.
Early OGSE, this shot-gun is highly effective here.
A controller and bloodsucker settle a score,
viewed with binocs from a safe distance.
Next post: Farming in cRPGs.

   E o P  


  1. Thanks for the entry.
    I got strength to reach Yantar.
    I was there while playing beta version with machine translation and that was my bane - got no clue what military scout from the bunker wanted.
    I though boosting carrying limit and gathering guns for more bucks makes me filthy rich but then - I saw prices of artifacts transformations. Insane...

    I do liked OGSE for connecting dots where vanilla left shredded edges and left players slightly confused when they finished the job.
    Glad they did not included automatic turrets like in 0692...

    1. Hi SpecShadow, and you're welcome. Oh god yes, those turrets scared me shitless! I don't think I really got mastery over the OGSE zone, even when I had all the best stuff. It's a tough mod. Looking forward to what these guys do with Remastered.


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